Manchester United recorded their second victory in succession to move into the top-four for the first time this season, but Louis Van Gaal insists that this is just the beginning.
Goals from Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao, who finally notched his first strike for the Red Devils, led United to a closely fought 2-1 victory over Everton. But they really had goalkeeper David De Gea to thank for the 3 points.
De Gea first showed his prowess between the sticks when he saved a Leighton Baines penalty in the last moments of the first half. The Spaniard palmed away Baines' tame effort, which meant that United went in at half-time with a one-nil advantage. This came courtesy of Di Maria, who had once again showed that he is well worth his $100 million price-tag when he expertly curled in a sublime finish after a neat pass from Juan Mata had set him up.
But United struggled to build up an attacking rhythm in the second half, and with their defense still finding its feet and filled with two 19-year-olds, Everton always looked dangerous. Steven Naismith's header from a delightful Baines cross proved the tension that had seeped into Old Trafford was understandable.
Everton then began to look the more dangerous side, and United reclaimed their advantage against the run of play. Once again, the imperious Di Maria was involved in the build-up after his 35-yard cross-come-shot fell at the feet of Falcao, who pounced and re-diverted the ball into the net.
Everton looked to try and create some chances, but it wasn't until the last four minutes when they really looked dangerous. However, they were thwarted by De Gea at every opportunity. United's number one first turned Leon Osman's pot-shot around the corner with one hand, but the best was yet to come. A dangerous Baines free-kick landed at the feet of Gareth Barry, whose drive was diligently blocked by the out-stretched legs of Tyler Blackett. But when Bryan Oviedo returned the ball towards the goal, it looked destined for the top corner until De Gea's out-stretched hand wonderfully stopped it.
United then held out for the last few seconds to confirm their victory, but Van Gaal insists it is just the beginning.
"We are not playing well but we are fourth in the table - so what will happen when we do play well?" Van Gaal teased.
With Angel Di Maria in such startling form, anything is possible.
[Image via Independent]